I am more familiar with this Asian vegetable as 菜心 (cai xin) its mandarin name. However I believe in the US and other parts of the world, the Cantonese equivalent, choy sum is a more common name. It is also known as the Chinese flowering cabbage, yow choy, and yow choy sum (those with yellow flowers).
Chinese or Cantonese, the name literally translates as "heart of the vegetable".
If you are thinking of finding out more about this vegetable, its scientific name is brassica parachinensis. A mouthful, I know.
Unlike the bok choy, the choy sum stems are slender and thin. The stems are pale green while the leaves are dark green.
It is supposed to contain a certain plant hormone that can increase the production of anti-carcinogenic protease. It also enhances the detoxification effect of the liver and is supposed to be quite good for boils and skin blemishes.
Like most Chinese vegetables, this Asian vegetable has large amount of vegetable fiber which aids bowel movements and prevent constipation. The fiber also binds with bad cholesterol in other foods and eliminate it through the bowels. This reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed by the body. It boosts immunity with its high beta-carotene and vitamin C levels.
Finally, cai xin has the highest level of calcium amongst vegetables. Sounds like a super vegetable right?
I find a lot of people mix 菜心 (cai xin) up with 芥蓝 (gai lan) aka Chinese broccoli. They may look similar but texture is different and may make or break a recipe you are trying. Leaves of the Chinese broccoli do not do well in soups. Tough and bitter.
This is gai lan. See how thick the stems are.
How to cook choy sum
Yow choy is a very versatile vegetable. It can be prepared in so many ways. Quick-fry, braise, blanch and serve with other condiments, add to fried noodles, and to soups.
It is a favourite with many local hawkers in Singapore. It is added to noodle soups, fried noodles, fried rice, steamed chicken rice, and as a side dish for chicken rice and wonton noodles. I think it is because it keeps better than other leafy vegetables and it is cheap.
It cooks up fairly quickly after preparation. Do not leave it to stand for too long. Lastly, do not eat left-over choy sum. It is best consumed fresh.
Recipe 1: A simple choy sum recipe with fish balls
This is a quick boiled soup recipe using ready ingredients with little preparation. Fish balls are easily found in Singapore's supermarkets. They are usually made from a mixture of fish and flour although handmade ones are made with 100% fish.
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